Fairest Lord Jesus

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I watched a show recently where contestants are left alone in very remote areas of the Arctic. They must harvest food, hunt without a gun, build their own shelter, and survive. They can ask to be picked up at any time and forfeit their chance at the prize. The last person remaining wins. 


It was fascinating to watch for many reasons, but one thing in particular stood out to me: how frequently contestants marvel at the incredible creation around them without any recognition of the Creator. Prayers to the marvelous starry skies, the forest gods, or even to the animals they hunted were more common than any mention of God as the creator of everything surrounding and sustaining them. At one point, a prayer was uttered to a dead squirrel by its hunter, who said, “Thank you for your life. Thank you for sacrificing for me” – the pinnacle of absurdity.


This kind of display is more common for many of us that we want to admit — maybe not prayers to squirrels (I hope!), but the temptation to elevate and worship creation over the Creator. It’s a tendency for all of us in this fallen world. A right understanding and appreciation for creation that leads to a deep reverence for and worship of the Creator is essential to the Christian faith. 


This seems to be the conviction at the heart of “Fairest Lord Jesus”, a 300-year-old German hymn sung for generations by the global Church. The author and his/her background is unknown, but we see biblical truths about creation and Creator that cannot be missed as we gather to sing this old hymn. Three things come to life as we consider the text of Fairest Lord Jesus:


1.    God delights in His creation. Think about that. In the very beginning, the Triune God created all things, and that creation brings him joy. We see this from the very first page of Scripture:


“..and God saw everything that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” – Genesis 1:31


Just as God delights in his creation, shouldn’t we pause to reflect on the goodness of the Creator?


2.    God reveals himself in his creation. Romans 1:20 tells us this when speaking of Jesus: 


“His invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” 

The hymn’s numerous creation references (meadows, woodlands, spring, sunshine, moonlight, etc..) are all meant to point us to the goodness of Christ himself who, as the song reminds us, is the “ruler of all nature” and “our soul’s glory, joy and crown.” God is showing himself to us every day in the created world around us.


Charles Spurgeon believed this deeply as he wrote,


“Some in these modern times have thought it to be a mark of high spirituality never to observe nature; and I remember sorrowfully reading the expressions of a godly person, who, in sailing down one of the most famous rivers in the world, closed his eyes, lest the picturesque beauties of the scene should divert his mind from scriptural topics. This may be regarded by some as profound spirituality; to me it seems to savor of absurdity. There may be persons who think they have grown in grace when they have attained to this; it seems to me that they are growing out of their senses. To despise the creating work of God, what is it but, in a measure, to despise God himself?”


3.    God is glorified in his creation. The Psalms are filled with references to God’s creation and how it points to the worship of its Creator. Psalm 19 – commended by C.S. Lewis as the world’s greatest literary work – begins with the skies above, saying, 


“The heavens declare the glory of God and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” – Psalm 19:1


This is point of “Fairest Lord Jesus”, I believe – that the beauty surrounding us has one goal in our lives and that is to glorify Christ, leading us back to a heart of worship and awe for the One True God who created all things. We see this in the closing lyrics: 


Beautiful Savior, Lord of all the nations

Son of God and Son of Man

Glory and honor, praise, adoration

Now and forevermore be Thine


I’ll end here with another TV reference – one that took place long before I was born. 

Apollo 8 was the precursor to the moon-landing mission of Apollo 11. On Apollo 8, NASA astronauts orbited the moon for the first time in history; it was the farthest any humans had ever traveled from earth. As they looked back at the tiny planet they knew as home, preparing to film a live interview on global television, scripted remarks just couldn’t do justice to the beauty and vastness of what they were witnessing. So, as the camera went live, the crew of Apollo 8 began to read:


 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said “Let there be light, and there was light. And God saw the light was good…” – Genesis 1:1-4


The overwhelming beauty of creation gave these men eyes to see the great power and sovereignty of the One who had created it. Our prayer is that when you listen to and sing “Fairest Lord Jesus”, you would delight in the creator God as you enjoy his creation – that you would have eyes open for God to show you his character and nature, and you would join the chorus of creation in glorifying the One who made it all.